It was a sly and evil little delight to be able to name Strangeways’s adventure-inducing psychotropic after one of the sharpest and nastiest academic catfights it was ever my pleasure to witness.
It happened something like this: back in 1992 the citizens of Colorado adopted “Amendment 2” to their state constition, which would have prevented any state or local government from adopting any rule or policy protecting gays or lesbians from discrimination. Prompt result: Federal litigation (this is America, damnit!). An issue raised at trial had to do with whether opposition to homosexuality had a primarily religious basis (which might present Establishment Clause problems for Amendment 2) or whether there was a rational basis for such opposition. Somewhat strained consequence: an expert-witness swearing contest between Catholic natural lawyer John Finnis and liberal cosmopolitan philosopher and classicist Martha Nussbaum over whether classical Greek thinkers did or did not condemn gay sex, one surprisingly deep part of which was a bitter dispute over whether the word τόλμημα (tolmêma) when applied to gay sex in Plato‘s Laws should be translated as either “shameless acts” or “acts of enterprise, boldness, daring.”
Oh, the fur did fly! A big ugly controversy with insinuations of perjury on one side and implied threats of libel suits on the other. If you like that sort of thing, you can read this archived account from the (now deceased, sadly) magazine Lingua Franca.
In due time, the litigation reached the United States Supreme Court in the form of Romer v. Evans, 517 U.S. 620 (1996), which held (and here I paraphrase for the non-lawyer reader) “Sorry, Colorado, but you’re just not allowed to use your state constitution to bash your gay and lesbian citizens.” On the issue of the true meaning of τόλμημα, the Court maintained a majestic judicial silence.
And me? Well, I’m no classicist, but I think I sort of like both readings, since I like the idea of characters who are both enterprising and shameless. And that’s why I named this fictional drug tomemazine.
And of course, had it introduced in a voice-over of a brief gay sex scene.